everything (redux)

they wanted everything
of each other

first she professed wanting everything
and he was afraid

eventually too he wanted everything
and she was overwhelmed

everything they discovered left no room
for anything else even oxygen

everything was heavier than anything
they had ever held before

everything is too hard she said it shouldn’t
be this hard she shook her head

everything he had ever wanted in her voice
and her face like infinity

everything had enveloped them like time
theirs to give without demand

he typed out the entire poem for her
because he became suddenly certain
that she must have these words
like those on the scrap of paper he found
in her handwriting just for him

he smoothed and centered the scrap
on a large index card taping it in place
this his bookmark in everything he read


—P.L. Thomas


when i die

Do my crying underwater
I can’t get down any farther

“Demons,” The National

will you come with no make up
barefoot in a soft dress shoulders bared

to sit in the grass as you look to the sky
with your legs crossed at the ankles

i am hoping it is a sunny day
or softly raining and warm

if you cry there for me gone
i hope i rest still in your heart

as you in mine no longer beating
if i can i will miss you forever

the weight of those legs in my lap
the soft curve of your foot in my hand

i died knowing you never needed me
i lived knowing you always wanted me

—P.L. Thomas

grammar Nazis (post-apostrophe literature)

when they came for the apostrophes
its like someone took all the stars
turning the night sky flat black

we were left with isnt and wont
all our its were jumbled
and everyone lost all their possessions

we began to bury dashes in the backyard
lock semicolons in chests in the attic
stuff commas by the handfuls in our pockets

some times in the inky darkness of night
exclamation points hidden like knives
under our pillows

we held hands or spooned whispering

itll be alright
they wont win
they wont win

—P.L. Thomas

we (desert)

But what if you discover that the price of purpose is to render invisible so many other things?
Acceptance, Jeff Vandermeer

we buy an RV without a plan or map
and then unceremoniously we leave

somehow we reach the desert
where we park for days then weeks

because we have been watching sometimes naked
on the couch Breaking Bad

we realize we are o so alone
except for sand and brush

on warm bright mornings i watch
you outside hanging clothes

sometimes wearing only a shirt unbuttoned
other times only panties soft tan like your skin*

i do not run through the door and sand
tackling you cradled in my arms to the ground

because my chest is overfilled with this
so that everything seems to be spilling from my eyes

and once you turned seeing me through the window
curtsying and opening the shirt with a smile

people i suspect don’t know
a goddamn thing about deserts

or being all alone as we are
with 14 hours of sunshine and cacti

* Inspired by the artwork of Valeria Ko

hanging clothes

when you forget about me (i don’t want to be your ghost)

when you forget about me
where do i reside

1000s of me’s and you’s and us’s
haunting your memories

the smallest figment of me
clinging to the lining of your heart

the remnants of my protestations
etched across your bones

and frantically burrowing deeper
into the reddest marrow of you

when you forget about me
where do i reside

when you remember does my name
leap like love from your throat

i am afraid of these forgettings
i am afraid of becoming a ghost

invisible and silent and immaterial
drifting bit by bit into just nothing

please don’t bury me in forgetting
i don’t want to be your ghost

—P.L. Thomas


(You! Driver) “Come to MARLBORO COUNTRY”:
a cowboy’s face looming over passing
cars with passengers racing, just lighting
like the cowboy’s massive fist; flat, paltry,
and weather-beaten, the billboard stands tall
and proud—a god-head begging for money,
promising a land of milk and honey.
He pushes both regular and menthol.

MARLBORO COUNTRY: Do come. Cough and gag
in the blackened swirling smoke, walk on low,
lifeless plains where tobacco once would grow
and light your decorated cancer fag.
Go ahead! Read the big words and inhale
the clear, clean manhood—the photographed smell.